Schools hope more cameras on buses will increase safety

Thursday, June 10, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:27 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Columbia Public Schools will attempt to increase safety on buses this year by adding more security cameras, at a cost of $15,125 on top of what is already spent on bus transportation.

The item is part of the 2004-2005 proposed budget to be presented this evening at a meeting of the Columbia School Board.

The change would mean cameras in half of all buses, up from a third. All buses already have machines that look like cameras so students are unable to tell if they are real.

The proposed budget states that money for the cameras comes from both the district’s operating funds and state funding for student transportation.

Jacque Cowherd, deputy superintendent, said principals find that the cameras help when dealing with disciplinary problems. Tapes from the cameras help principals find out what happened during an incident instead of trying to navigate contradictory stories from students.

Cowherd said that, to his knowledge, there was no particular incident that prompted placement of the cameras in the first place. But he said that because of events such as the Columbine school shooting, in which several students were shot by classmates in Colorado, there has been an overall increase in school security.

Tom Schlimpert, principal at Lange Middle School, said that some buses have more disciplinary issues than others – fights, for example – and that having cameras on those routes would be a great help.

Schlimpert said the cameras help with smaller issues, such as safety violations – for example, students getting out of their seats while the buses are still moving.

“I definitely think the district and First Student (the bus company) work hard to ensure the safety of both students and drivers,” Schlimpert said.

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